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Commentary: A Hollow Victory For Mahathir And His Cronies

There was an audible gasp as the Malaysian court announced its verdict on Apr. 14: six years imprisonment for former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim. In response, Anwar called the harsh sentence an "absolute disgrace" and lashed out at the government of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad for clinging to power "at whatever cost." Within hours, riots had broken out in Kuala Lumpur as Anwar supporters showed their rage.

Mahathir has made many miscalculations since Asia's financial crisis began. The arrest and trial of Anwar on charges of sodomy and corruption is probably the biggest. Instead of proving Anwar's guilt, the proceedings became a show trial that the media-savvy former deputy premier turned to his advantage by highlighting the cronyism, nepotism, and corruption in the Mahathir regime.